It seems that as the iPhone connects to more of our devices and is slowly embedding itself into the center of all of our daily habits and routines. One consequence of this phenomenon becomes apparent if you walk into an Apple Store: it seems like Apple is selling everything at their retail locations. It used to be if you went into an Apple Store, you’d be looking for a case, or a cable, or a pair of headphones; now Apple has stocked blood glucose monitors, smart thermostats, and even smart lightbulbs.
That’s right, Phillips is selling smart lightbulbs (which I will call ‘smartbulbs’), and the Apple Store is the first retail outlet they’ve chosen to test selling their new product. Remote controlled LED lightbulbs aren’t new–the technology has been around for a while–but Phillips’ Hue smartbulbs can connect to an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch through using a ‘bridge’ connected to your home WiFi router, allowing you to control up to 50 colored smartbulbs per household with the free Phillips Hue app.
Using the app, you can set lights to different color profiles, including profiles supposedly optimized to help you concentrate, read, and relax. You can also set timers, custom colors, and a “fade on” effect to slowly wake you up with natural light. You can also set colors from photographs, though we question how useful this is compared to the standard color selector.
Of course, the app would worthless if the bulbs aren’t good enough to work as a primary light source. The Hue smartbulbs are rated at 600 lumens by Phillips: that’s about 80% as bright as a standard 60W incandescent lightbulb, though the bulbs are also supposed to use 80% less power. On the other hand, the three bulb starter kit (with the Hue Bridge) costs $199, and each additional bulb costs $59. It’s doubtful that the bulbs will help you recoup your expenses, but the novel color changing features might justify the price as a luxury item.
Download the Phillips Hue app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch – FREE [iTunes App Store] (Currently iOS exclusive!)
Would you pay $199 for three color changing smartbulbs, will you wait for the technology to drop in price, or would you just save your money and paint lightbulbs for a fraction of the cost? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.